Civil Wedding Ceremony

Civil Wedding Ceremony

For a non-religious legal wedding, many couples are opting for a civil ceremony. Wedessence provides you information on what it entails along with a sample script that will help you organize the event.
Wedessence Staff
Remember the rhyme?
Something old - continuity
Something new - optimism for the future
Something borrowed - borrowed happiness
Something blue - fidelity
Silver sixpence in her shoe - wealth or good luck

In the United States, both religious and civil ceremonies are considered legal. A couple doesn't have to precede a religious rite with a civil ceremony. However, if a couple does decide to have a civil marriage, they require a marriage license issued by local civil authorities. On the other hand, many countries across the world mandate a civil marriage ceremony, and then let the couple choose whether they wish to follow it with a religious ceremony or not.

Today, more and more couples are opting to get married in this manner. The ceremony can be officiated by a chaplain, county clerk, judge, justice of the peace, mayor, minister, notary public, township council member, or a superior court clerk. Now if the ceremony isn't being held at the City Hall, a couple can choose any private venue that holds the license. But before the big day, you need to check with the local marriage license bureau or municipal country clerk's office to determine the exact policies and rules for the ceremony.

Planning a Civil Ceremony

Since this is a non-traditional Catholic ceremony or any other religious wedding, there are a ton of choices as to how you want the ceremony to be held. Usually, you will find that the ceremony has a particular order of occurrence:
  1. Opening words by officiant
  2. Ceremony readings
  3. Consent
  4. Wedding vows
  5. Exchange of rings
  6. Final words or thoughts
  7. Closing words by officiant
There is no time limit or length for the ceremony; although guests do hope for a quick affair. You can have certain elements of a traditional ceremony, if you like, or completely do away with it. The essential part is that you need to be comfortable and happy with the nature of your wedding.

Civil Wedding Ceremony Examples

To get a better understanding of how the ceremony looks like, and what you can do, here are some sample civil wedding ceremony scripts that demonstrates what the roles of the bride, groom, and the officiant will be.

Sample #1

We are gathered here today because this couple has decided to be joined in marriage. The essence of marriage lies in committing oneself to the other person entirely as a friend, confidant, companion, and lover. This decision should never be made lightly, but should be considered with utmost care, respect, and loyalty.

(bride's name) and (groom's name) are taking a step together and celebrating their love with the sanctity of marriage. And that is why, we are here to share their love with one another and give our blessings and wishes to them for a beautiful and happy marriage.

(bride's name) and (groom's name), today you have come here with an intention to marry one another and join hands forever in a holy relationship.

If you have any personal wedding vows written, you can do so here or else, repeat what the officiant will ask you to say.

Officiant to the Groom: Please, repeat after me ...

"I, (groom's name), take you, (bride's name), to be my lawfully wedded wife. I promise from this day forward to be your faithful husband, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, as long as I shall live".

Sample #2

The ceremony of marriage in which you come to be united is one of the first and oldest ceremonies in the world. Marriage is the clasping of hands, the blending of two hearts and the union of two lives into one. Your marriage must stand, not by the authority of the State, nor by the seal on your wedding certificate but by the strength and power of the faith and love you have for one another.

"I do solemnly declare that I do not know of any lawful impediment why I, (groom's name), may not be joined in matrimony/marriage to, (bride's name)."

Officiant to the Bride: Please, repeat after me ...

"I, (bride's name), take you, (groom's name), to be my lawfully wedded husband. I promise from this day forward to be your faithful wife, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, as long as I shall live".

A Bible Reading from Corinthians (if desired).

Prayer, if desired. Some couples will ask a family member to say a prayer instead of the officiant.

PRONOUNCEMENT

Whom God hath joined together, let no one put asunder.
(bride's name) and (groom's name), in so much as the two of you have agreed to live together in Holy Matrimony, have promised your love for each other by these vows, the joining of your hands and the giving of these rings, I now declare you to be Husband and Wife. It is my privilege to present to you Mr. & Mrs. (last name).

(Reception and other announcements are made if wished.)

Sample #3

When the bride appears, ready to walk down the aisle ...
Officiant to everyone: Please rise.

Presentation of the Bride
Officiant: Who gives this woman to be married to this man? ... OR ... Who supports this woman in her commitment to this man?
The Father: Her mother and I ... OR ...Our family does.
Officiant to the guests: Who stands with this couple to express the good wishes of their families and friends? And everyone says, "We do!" Together ...
Guests: "We do!"
Officiant to everyone: You may be seated.

Officiant: Join with me as we bow our heads to observe a moment of silence to honor the memory of those who are not with us today, but are here in spirit. (Pause briefly) Amen.

"I do solemnly declare that I do not know of any lawful impediment why I, (bride's name), may not be joined in matrimony/marriage to, (groom's name)."

Next is the ring ceremony, if the bride and the groom wishes, to declare it as a symbol of their marriage and love for one another. The officiant will ask the bride and the groom to repeat these words as the rings are being exchanged ...

"With this ring, I wed thee. I shall love you, honor you, and cherish you for as long as we both shall live. This is a symbol of my undying love for you."

I, (officiant's name), by the power vested in me by the Marriage Act, pronounce (groom's name) and (bride's name) to be married.

You may now kiss your bride.

As we mentioned earlier, you can definitely script your wedding in your own manner. There are no rules that keep you from having a wedding of your dreams just because you chose a civil ceremony. This is where we'd like to congratulate you and your fiancé on your upcoming wedding.